OSP rescued from cuts -- for now

The layoff of 130 Oregon State Patrol officers has been rescinded — at least temporarily.

On Wednesday, the fifth special session of the Legislature ended with a budget package that could forestall the $8.8 million in cuts to the OSP budget proposed by Gov. John Kitzhaber.

“The restoration of the OSP jobs is something we all (legislators) worked together on and I’m grateful we were able to save them,” said Rep. Patti Smith, R-Corbett.

However, if the $301 million three-year income tax increase proposed by the elected body is denied by voters at a special election on Jan. 13, then the state’s leading law enforcement agency could find itself facing the same staffing cuts.

“We’re very relieved right now because these layoffs would have just devastated our operations here,” said Lieutenant Michael Davison, commander of The Dalles field office that serves Wasco, Hood River and Sherman counties.

The OSP agency in the Gorge stood to lose half of its 16 troopers under Kitzhaber’s plan to close a $482 million budget gap. Davidson said the proposal was particularly onerous since it followed a $10 million reduction already absorbed by the OSP this year.

The statewide layoffs were slated to take place on Oct. 1 and Davidson had warned Hood River law enforcement agencies that patrols along Interstate 84 and other area state highways would be reduced and there would be longer response times to calls for help.

Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler and Police Chief Tony Dirks expressed concerns about meeting the safety needs of the community without OSP backup.

Davidson said the current reprieve is greatly appreciated but the future could see the same grim scenario unfolding.

“This is kind of a wait and see situation and a lot is going to be riding on the voters,” he said.

Smith said if the tax increase is denied, the legislature will seek to stop cuts to OSP in the regular budget setting session which begins on the same day.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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